Tiananmen Square, Beijing

Tiananmen Square, Beijing

Tiananmen Square, at the heart of Beijing, is the largest of its kind in the world. It is named after the Tiananmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace) which sits in between the Forbidden City in the north and the Temple of Heaven in the south.

Because of its significant location, it is a ‘must-go’ for Beijing visitors.

Associated Tourist Spots
Tiananmen Square covers an area of over 400,000 square meters. There are a numbers of famous constructions associated to it.

Tiananmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace. In Chinese, men = gate) is the southern entrance to the Forbidden City. It was originally built in the Ming Dynasty around 1417 when the current Tienanmen Square didn’t exist. At that time it was a place filled with offices for imperial ministries.

The 3-storey traditional Chinese tower has five arch-shape gates and seven Gold Water Bridges that led the Ming and Qing emperors in and out of the Forbidden City.

This was where Chairman Mao Zedong stood in 1949 and declared a new China.

Nowadays, it has a huge portrait of the great Chairman Mao hung over the middle gate. On both sides of the portrait, there are two giant placards; the left one reads "Long Live the People's Republic of China" (中华人民共和国万岁), while the right one reads "Long live the Great Unity of the World's Peoples" (世界人民大团结万岁).

Monument to the People’s Heroes is in the middle of the square, built in memory of the people who sacrificed their lives in the establishment of new China. It was built in 1952 and its design was selected from hundreds of designs from the most outstanding Chinese architects.

On the north side of the Monument, you will find Chairman Mao’s inscription of 'The People's Heroes are Immortal'. On the south side of the monument is the essay praising The People’s Heroes authored by Chairman Mao and written by Prime Minister Zhou Enlai.

On the four sides of the foundation there are eight giant anaglyphs describing eight significant historical (mainly revolutionary) events that have occurred in recent China.

If you are interested in recent China history, please spend some time to check out the Monument.

Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao Zedong is situated south of the Monument. You will find Chairman Mao dressed in his blue gray suit, lying in a crystal coffin. There are numerous people bring flowers here and show their respect to the great man. The line into the Hall is long, but it moves fast. Bags and cameras are not allowed. Visiting Chairman Mao's tomb is somewhat a solemn thing, it is not recommended for young children.

There is a movie hall on the second floor where you can learn more about the great man.

People's Great Hall is right next to the Tiananmen Square. It sits on a site of 170,000 square meters, however took only 10 months to build. This is where the Chinese leaders hold their annual meetings and seeing foreign leaders and envoys. The Grand Meeting Hall can accommodate 10,000 participants with advance voting mechanism. The Banquet Hall can accommodate 5,000 diners. There are different meeting rooms resembling all provinces of China, including Taiwan.

The People’s Great Hall is open to visitors but not on every day. It might be cancelled even it was published the previous day. However it is just next to Tiananmen Square, it won’t take much time to come test your luck.

Key Events
While most tourist spots in Beijing are associated with ancient Chinese history and culture, Tiananmen Square is on the contrary. Events happened here was mainly related to modern China.

Tiananmen Square has been a place for many large-scale demonstrations and protests. Perhaps this is why Tiananmen Square is heavily monitored by uniformed and plain clothes policemen. At night time, it is lit up by many big lamp posts.

Here is a list of the critical events that happened at Tiananmen Square in the recent 100 years.

May 4, 1919 - May Fourth Movement - The first large-scale student-led demonstration after Qing Dynasty was overthrown in 1911. On the afternoon of May 4, over 3,000 students of Peking University and other schools gathered together in front of Tiananmen and held a demonstration. Students voiced their anger of China government's inability to secure Chinese interests in the Paris Peace Conference.

The aftermath of May Fourth Movements led to the crying for science and democracy. Furthermore, some people even described it as ‘New Literature Movement’. Chinese were desperate for a modern China. They wanted to overthrow the ancient way of Chinese writing and grammar and moved to a modern way of Chinese writing.

Founding of PRC

Oct 1, 1949 – Chairman Mao Zedong declared the founding of People’s Republic of China at Tiananmen.

April 5, 1976 – April 5 is the traditional Chinese Grave Cleaning Festival in memory of ancestors.

There was an outpouring of flowers and wreaths at the Monument to the People’s Heroes in memory of late Prime Minister Zhou Enlai who died on January 8, 1976.

The event finally turned into demonstration for democracy. Millions of people made speeches, display poems and posters at Tiananmen Square on April 5.

April 15 – June 4, 1989 – Widely known as June Fourth Incident. Student-led mourning initially in memory of late Hu Yaobang eventually turned into protests and demonstrations for democracy. Students started a hunger strike at Tiananmen Square on May 13. Students’ movement was subjected to a forceful suppression by the People's Liberation Army on the early morning of June 4.

During the process, it was believed that millions of students, Beijingers, compatriots from all over the country and reporters from all over the world gathered at Tiananmen Square round the clock.

Everyday - Flag-raising ceremony –This is a formal event. Soldiers march out and precisely raise or lower the flag to coincide with sunrise or sunset. On the first of each month, a full-fledged military band also plays the national anthem.

From Tiananmen Square to see the Forbidden City